A DRUG addict barmaid has been jailed for five years for robbing a frail 85-year-old man of his last penny after systematically stripping him of his life savings.

The judge sentencing 29-year-old Sonya Thornton at Bradford Crown Court yesterday described her crimes as "disgraceful and inhuman".

Thornton, a heroin and crack cocaine addict, threatened to prostitute herself, and pretended her grandmother was in danger, to fleece James Rafferty out of his £10,000 nest egg, prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said.

The vulnerable pensioner, who lives in sheltered accommodation in the Keighley area, paid her large sums of money between May and October last year when she turned up at his home begging and pleading.

When he refused to hand over the little cash he had left, Thornton snatched banknotes from his hand and returned the next day to rob him.

Thornton, formerly of Ashwood Drive, Riddlesden, told Mr Rafferty she needed money for rent and payday loans. She pretended she was no longer taking drugs and that her grandmother was in danger.

"She turned up at his flat in tears, crying and begging. She said if he did not keep paying her money, she would resort to prostitution," Mr Sharp said.

In six months, Mr Rafferty gave her £7,420.

"He then realised he had been taken for a sucker," Mr Sharp said.

On October 27 last year, Thornton told Mr Rafferty she had a large amount of money in the bank but needed £200 to release it. When he insisted on going with her, she snatched the cash and ran off.

The next day, she confronted him on his doorstep, shouting and screaming, saying someone was threatening her grandmother.

She grabbed his flat keys, got inside and scuffled with Mr Rafferty, who went to the ground suffering cuts to his head and severe bruising to his hands. Thornton then pushed him on to the bed and ransacked his wardrobe, fleeing with his last £200.

Mr Rafferty told the police the loss of his life savings was "a catastrophe".

Thornton had been given a room at the Roebuck pub in Utley but repaid landlady Caroline Ingram's kindness by walking out of her accommodation and her job there, and stealing property from her.

Thornton pleaded guilty to robbing Mr Rafferty, two offences of stealing from him, and theft from Mrs Ingram.

She had 16 convictions for offences including assault, robbery and possession of crack cocaine and heroin.

Her barrister, Sohail Khan, conceded it was wicked behaviour and said she was ashamed.

She was now attempting to pay back what she could to Mr Rafferty.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told Thornton: "I know you feel utterly miserable about this and accept that a long sentence must follow."

They were "mean and despicable offences," he said.

He told Thornton: "Elderly people can be very naive and they are very vulnerable and they are unable to resist intense pressure."

He said of Mr Rafferty: "He's been left with nothing, and all that money was poured into your addiction."